Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 38
Maturing in God’s Word – Part 2
Now in our last lesson we were in verse 15, but didn’t get to finish the verse, so let’s look at it again as we start this lesson.
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up…”
Growing up is exactly what it says. We were talking previously about babes who had to start with the milk of the Word. But just like a child in ordinary physical life, you don’t want him to stay a three year old forever. Oh they’re sweet back there at three, but you still wouldn’t want them to stay there as a three year old, you want them to grow up. And it’s the same way spiritually, God intends that babes in Christ to begin this growth process and mature and grow up into Him, where we are totally dependent on Him, and what are the next three words in that verse?
“…in all things,…”
Now you know most believers think that this is just for Sunday, but it isn’t. This is for seven days a week, this is for every circumstance of life. Our Christian experience is part and parcel of our everyday walk, whether it’s myself out in the boondocks in Southeastern Oklahoma, among the cattle, or whether it’s you in a big office full of computers, or whether you’re a professional person, that doesn’t make any difference. We are to be constantly growing up, in Christ, and let it permeate into every aspect of life, and we are to grow up into Him.
“… which is the head, even Christ.”
Again I must be careful that I don’t walk into a buzz saw of opposition, so I’m not going to set this in concrete. But have you ever realized that Paul never refers to us as sheep? Have you ever thought of that? Paul never refers to us believers as sheep or Christ as the shepherd. Now that wasn’t the case with the nation of Israel. Israel always had that analogy of the shepherd and His sheep. Psalm chapter 23, everyone knows that. Then you get into John’s gospel chapter 10, and what have you got? The good shepherd chapter.
But you see Paul never uses that terminology, and I think I can see why. Instead Paul uses the analogy of Christ is the Head, and we’re the Body. Now look at the difference between a shepherd and his sheep, and the head with all it’s central nervous system with the brain, and mind, and the body. What a difference! That’s what I think Paul is trying to drive home to us, that we’re not just like a bunch of sheep, but rather we’re an intricate part of the Head who is in heaven. That’s why God is just as anxious for us to get up there with Him, as we are to go. And I’m finding that believers today are getting more anxious all the time to get out of here. The world is going to say, “good riddance.” But oh my, we’re anxious to get out of here, and He’s anxious for us to come.
Remember I pointed that out back in Ephesians chapter 1, that we are the complement which is the same word that was used back in Genesis when God brought Eve to Adam. She was to be his complement. In other words Adam was never complete until Eve was at his side. Well the Bible gives the same inclination of Christ toward us, the Body, that He doesn’t even consider Himself complete until He has the complement in His presence, so everything is moving in that direction.
“…which is the head, even Christ:”
Let’s look at a few references then, of the Head. It’s a term that Paul and only Paul uses over and over, that we are the Body and He is the head. Of course the first one I trust most of you already know is found in I Corinthians chapter 12. We could look at so many references in this chapter because everything from verse 12 to the end of the chapter speaks of this analogy. The Body of Christ, the True Gentile Body, The True Church is only a Pauline doctrine. No other portion of Scripture, – the four gospels, the Old Testament, the Book of Acts, Revelations,- none of it speak of the Body of Christ, and there’s a reason for that.
I Corinthian 12:12
“For as the body (this human body) is one, and hath many members, (fingers, hands, toes, eyes, ears, and so forth) and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (Or the implication is, the Body of Christ)
The Body of Christ is not just one person, the Body of Christ is not just one great evangelist, or some great Bible scholar, but rather the Body of Christ is every believer from the greatest to the least of all believers since Paul’s conversion, and we all function as one. Now verse 13, a verse we look at so often because it’s one of the most important verses in the Bible as it explains the only baptism that really counts.
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one (Holy) Spirit, are we all baptized into one body,”
Not just those who have had a special revelation or seemingly are more elite in their faith than the rest of us, but rather every believer regardless of our station in life, or our station in our Spiritual maturity, we have all been baptized into this Body of Christ.
I Corinthians 12:13b-14
“…whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14. For the body is not one member, but many.” Now we won’t take time to read the rest of those verses, but I would like you to come on down to verse 27. This is the capstone of it all.
I Corinthians 12:27
“Now ye (as he writes to us) are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
In other words, the Body of Christ is a big Body we have been baptized into by the Holy Spirit, but, does God lose sight of when that happens. No way! God is aware of each and every one of us as an individual. He knows us by name, even though we’re in the composite whole, and this is the beauty of it all. We function as one, we all have the same kind of salvation, we all have the same hope of glory, we all have all these blessings that are spiritual, and yet we do not lose our individuality as we’re still a distinct person. Let’s also look at the Body of Christ in Ephesians chapter 1. Remember the Book of Ephesians is a positional Book, God placed us in the Body and being a member of the Body of Christ is a positional thing.
“And hath put all things under his (Christ) feet, and gave him, to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,…”
See that’s the way you have to read that to complete the thought. Don’t stop with just verse 22, which says that He gave all things to the Church. No, He gave it to the Church which is His Body, and that makes a big difference. Because normally people think of the Church as any building on the corner, regardless what the handle may be, it’s still a Church, but that’s not the Church that Paul’s talking about. He’s talking about the Church which is His Body, which hopefully most of these Churches sitting on the corner will have some of their people in the Body at least. Then look at another one over in chapter 2 of this same Book. Let’s begin at verse 14.
“For he is our peace, who hath made both one,…” Who are the both? Jew and Gentile in the Body of Christ. Now hold your hand here as another verse just comes to mind in the Book of Romans, and this is what got Paul in trouble with his own Jewish people.
“What then? are we (Jews) better than they? (Gentiles)
Now back before Paul came along, what would the answer have been? Absolutely! Because beginning with Israel’s experience in Egypt, what did God tell the Jews? I have put a division between you and the Egyptians, and never again will you be like the rest of the world around you. So they went through those 1500 years with that mentality, that they were a favored people, and they were. Don’t ever take that away from them, but now with Paul and the Age of Grace, they’ve lost that place of privilege, and now Paul can say, “there is no difference.” Now read on.
“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;”
In fact I put this way to one of my classes here in Oklahoma the other night. “Have you ever wondered why God, in the whole scheme of things, put the nation of Israel in that place of privilege? Well I think I’ve got the answer. To show that after 2000 years, beginning with Abraham, the Jews were in that place of privilege, they were under the covenant promises, and God dealt with them in miraculous ways. The Messiah came and walked in the midst of them. But after everything was said and done, were they any better than the pagan Gentiles around them? No. And that was the proof of the pudding. Even those that had all these special things going for them, in the final analysis, their old Adam was just as corrupt as ours is. Now that should tell us something shouldn’t it? We’re all the sons of Adam. Now come across the page in chapter 3 and let’s look at verse 21 and 22.
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, (put in the spot light.) being witnessed by the law and the prophets:”
I used the verse in a lesson or two back, how much Scripture is profitable? All! All Scripture is profitable. That takes you back to Genesis 1:1 and to the very last verse in Revelation chapter 22. It’s all profitable. So everything that I teach from Paul is not to be just lifted out and throw the rest of Scripture away, because it all rests on that which went before. So this is what Paul is now saying.
“…being witnessed by the law and the prophets: 22. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”
Don’t you love the way the verse ends? Boy I do! There is no difference now. The Jew with all his historical background doesn’t stand on any higher ground with God today than you or I do, because there is no difference. In today’s sports language we would say, “God has leveled the playing field.” Isn’t that right? He leveled the playing field and we all end up as sinners because we were born of Adam. Now I haven’t had that on the board for a long time. I put it up there months and months ago – “We are not sinner because we sin, but rather we sin because we’re sinners” Now that levels the playing field. You and I can’t look down our nose at the poor alcoholic, and say, “Well if you would live like I live you wouldn’t have that trouble.” No! That person is not a sinner because he’s an alcoholic, he has become an alcoholic because he has that old sin nature from Adam.
Everyone of us are on the same level area when God finds us in our sins, because we’re all children of Adam, and a lot of people don’t understand that. They think that some people are just naturally good enough that they’re going to make it, because they were never sinners. Hey I got news for them, the Bible makes it so plain that we’re all sinners until we’re saved.We normally like to put the whole human race into two categories. “Jews and Gentiles,” but actually there’s three, and what are they? The Jew, the Gentile, and members of the Body of Christ. Those are the three classes of people on the earth today. Always remember as soon as we become a member of the Body of Christ we lose our ID so far as Jew and Gentile, because we’re all one in the Body, but outside the Body they still have their distinctiveness.
But oh listen, Paul says that when it comes to the matter of spiritual, and salvation, there is no difference. Now do you see why the Jew plagued Paul every step of the way? Hey they didn’t like that, and I can understand it. I mean, they were in that place of privilege, and then to all of a sudden have one little Jew pull that out from under them. So they fought against that teaching tooth and toenail, and were always causing Paul most of his problems. Now let’s come back to Ephesians chapter 4.
“From whom (that is from Christ who is the Head) the whole body fitly joined together and compacted…”
Like knitting the Body together. I’m sure you’ve seen these ladies who could really knit, in fact the last time we went to Israel, Charlotte from Indiana would be talking a mile a minute, but oh those needles would be going like crazy without missing a beat. Well what was her finished product? Something that was intricately woven together. Well that’s what God has been doing with you and I non-stop for the last 1900 + years. He’s been intricately weaving us into the Body of Christ. Now that’s quite a position isn’t it? Now reading on in verse 16.
“…by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,…”
Now again, every part of our body has a unique function. As we get older the old arthritis begins to kick in. Those old joints begins to stiffen up, and I’ve told Iris that only if these old joints had a grease fitting so I could lubricate them. If I could just pump in a shot of grease, and just smooth everything out they would feel so much better. And under normal circumstances that is the function of the joints, and that’s the way the body functions.
Do you ever take for granted your tears? How long would your eyes last if there were no tears? Why, they’d get dry as powder, and you’d be out of luck, but what’s the purpose of these parts? To make everything in the body function. Well God does the same thing with you and I in the Body of Christ, we all have a unique function. A lot of people don’t realize that, and it can be in a million different little ways. Some can do it by prayer for others, some can do it by writing little notes of encouragement to others, some of you can exhort people to encourage them, to move on, and you could just go on and on. Those are all things that make the Body function, and we’re all part of that. Now reading on in verse 16.
“… that which every joint supplieth, (and that’s the reference he’s making. Every part of our body function, the things that make it work are there, and it’s all) according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,…”
Now reading this casual like, this may get kind of boring, but don’t read it casually. Read it like we are now, that this is the impact of it. All the parts of the Body of Christ are functioning for it’s unique purpose.
“…maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Now I don’t know, I hope I’m not twisting this out of context, but what do you suppose Paul is referring here to when he says, “increasing the body?” Well I personally think it’s soul winning. This is what He wants us to do. We are to be a testimony of God’s Grace, we are to being showing forth a product that the lost world should want, and we are to be reproducing. In fact let’s come back for a moment to Romans chapter 7. I suppose some people set out there, and say, “Some day that guy’s is going to want to find a verse and can’t find it.” And I worry about that myself, but I think the Lord usually provides.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, (that is to Christ) even to him who is raised from the dead,that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
In the original scheme of things, what was the purpose of marriage? Children. Now look at this verse, what is the true purpose of our being married to Christ? Offspring. “That we should bring forth fruit unto God.” What’s the fruit? Lost people that we can win, and by doing that we cause the Body of Christ to grow. Those of us who are hoping for the Lord to come, I’ve always stressed, “how can we hasten the Lord’s coming? Soul winning! As soon as the Body of Christ is complete, whenever that is, it’s going to go home! So let’s get out and don’t miss a chance to witness, and win the lost, and fill up the Body of Christ. In fact another verse comes to mind to finish that thought. “Have I got time Sharon?” 30 seconds? That’s a long time in an NBA game so let’s try it. Romans 11:25
“…that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
The fulness of the Gentiles has not happened yet, but as soon as that last person is saved in this Church age, then that prophecy will also be complete.